Sunday, March 28, 2010

From Sunday To Sunday To Sunday

Three weeks ago, I jumped down off my beloved Pickles with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, threw my arms around his neck with the biggest hug I could muster and promsed him it would be alright with me if he was last in dressage for the rest of his life as long as he jumped like he did that day. He rolled his eyes at my melodramatic promises and said "yea right", to himself I am sure.

The following week,after the most gallant of battles, I lost him to colic. Again I threw my arms around him and told him it was all going to be ok. HE did the same for me.

This weekend Barby and I had to load the trailer for Pine Top without him and we were in tears for the entire process. We can't even clean the tack or roll the bandages without having to stop and take a huge breath. Barby said she felt completely out of sorts all week. Something was missing. She was right. It was Pickles.

Tawn Edwards was so kind and sent the most beautiful white flowers with words that spoke the truth. Though Pickles was gone, I now had to take care of my other devils and not let them down. This was a secret message from above sent via Tawn and it hit me in the head like a bat.

Though we only had two instead of three devils on the hoof, Pickles was definately with us.In fact I am COMPLETELY POSITIVE he GALLOPED past the dressage ring behind the judge and MOONED Peter Pan as Peter stopped dead in his tracks at X and REFUSED to go forward for what seemed an eternity! We are SURE it was Pickles. I went from my elegant dressage seat to the full crowbar position usually reserved for the leaf pit at Burghley to try and proceed past C. I was able to recover the rest of the dressage test , leaving Peter a credible third behind Amy Tryons lovely horses.

We were happy with Harry's test. He is a love and not quite as much of a challenge as Peter, although he did catch me with my gaurd down in Florida two weeks ago!

Pickles left us alone in show jumping. Both boys had double clears which was exciting.

I had 7 times faults with Harry on the cross country. I still have some tiny balance issues to the jumps that take me extra time. Who cares.I definately think we have a horse for the future. Harry finished his class in third. Wow, great!

Pickles showed himself again about three strides out of the start box for Peters cross country round. When one has a great rapport with a horse, it feels as if your partner can read your mind. River was a mind reader at the biggest combinations this country has to offer. He would gallop up to them, sight them and just clearly say, "got it" and go. My favorite field hunter Charlie Ferrari is a complete mind reader. I could follow hounds on him with both of us blindfolded. The security of an experienced horse is truely a great feeling, like dancing with Fred Astaire......(Heaven, I'm in heaven.........)

Peter Pan had Pickles in his back pocket today. He never missed a lick and bombed around making the time and winning the class. Peter was a mind reader today. I am very ecited about moving him up a class and hope he contiues on this path! We couldn't believe it. We all cried at the finish.We all cried all day. We cried in the office. Everyone everywhere all weekend was so kind.

So this Sunday has brought us back up again. We did this for my friend. We did this for my teacher. Pickles has passed his great spirit and knowledge onto these younger devils. He taught them well. Thankyou Pickles.

Thankyou to everyone out there. What a ride...Stay Tuned!

Monday, March 22, 2010

More About Pickles

I spent a quiet day yesterday here at Paradise. I needed to be alone with just my friends.I was selfish and wouldn't even let Barby come to work.Pickles was laid to rest in a place of honor and I spent a lot of time with him.I have polished his halter and it hangs now in my office next to the most gallant picture of Riverdance jumping the A frame oxer at Rolex.One of the most significant memories of my life.The gleam of the brass now on my wall is a reminder from heaven to appreciate and feel the love and the knowlegde these horses have allowed me to experience.

The out pourring of love that has been sent to us here at Paradise has been overwhelming. Once again I must express my greatest thanks to everyone out there that is involved with the crazy journeys of the devils and life on this farm.

Pickles definately made an impression. He was so comlicated. He was such a worrier,just like me.I know I made him crazy at times,like I do everyone else. But I knew one day we would get together and we did.And now I know through him that If I really do wait long enough ,other things will work out too.

There were so many times I wanted to give up.There were so many times I could not unlock the door or even believe there was key for the door. There were so many days I would promise not to get in a mess with Pickles only to end up in a puddle of anxiety,depression,frustration.Why?Why? Why can't I get it right with this horse?What kept us in such a mess?

Pickles would often rear straight up. He could go up straight from the canter or a standstill.yet he was the quitest,most well mannered fellow on the ground. He definately spoke to me. It took me so long to hear him.

The main thing is I hear him now.I feel he gave me a big key yesterday.

The key is to be grateful and happy with what is and not what should be.The key is if you want to ride or even live a day you better shut up and wait for it and enjoy it while it is there.

To be able to ride with an open hand and not have to restrict and prevent the flow of the gait.We create all this stuff ,then won't let it happen.Really stupid.

Pickles is teaching me to open my hand. He is teaching me timing.He is teaching me about size of stride.I have let my strides be to big and strung out for too long.I will work hard to honor my teacher and my friend. I do not like the words half halt. I prefer almost walk.

My rides today will be in the honor of my teacher.I hope everyone learns to honor their horses as well.We are so lucky.I am looking forward to more conversation from my teacher.He is making me stronger.I will be better for this. Thankyou Pickles.I love you always.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sweetest Gherkin That EVER Lived

Last night at 1.30 am the angels came and took Pickles to heaven.He fought a gallant battle for 2 days and then it was his time to go.I wanted to throw myself on top of him and go with him.

I am so grateful to have known this very very special horse.He was bred in Georgia near Pine Top by Harry Varn. He came to me years ago from a friend named Emily Gainey.I loved him from the minute I saw him. He was practically unbroken. He definitely wouldn't steer or canter. Emily wanted to know what to do with him.After watching him haul her around I said "let me ride him."After 5 minutes I said "Leave him here overnight".As soon as Emily left that afternoon with great reluctance on her part ,I tacked him up again and took him out to my cross country field and we jumped the entire beginner novice course that very day.He just did it.I knew then he would never leave the farm.

Pickles had a long back. When he came to the farm,I almost named him sausage,but thought that might not go down so well.So he became a pickle instead.

Our relationship was not an easy one. Over the next 7 years ,I had many a war with Pickles. Sometimes he was a sweet gherkin and sometimes is was a dill.There were so many times I couldn't communicate with him.

I spent buckets of money trying to find out what was wrong with him.I had vets,chiropractors,acupuncture,saddle fitters,even a damn bone scan to try and find out why we couldn't get it together in our dressage and our jumping.Bottom line was,,,,,,,,,,I simply needed to take more time and learn to ride him.......There was nothing wrong with him. It was me. IT was us... But I knew I wanted the relationship to work. And he waited for me to learn how to ride him till the end.He waited for me patiently and clearly taught me more lessons than any horse.I will remember Pickles as one of my best teachers. Our relationship did work. It was worth it all. Every single bit of all the less than ideal times.

Barby said to me last night as we sat in the darkness crying our heads off,"I wish he could have taken you to the top."My respond was easy. "He did".

Though we never found nirvana in the dressage ring,I did find it in the jumping.After retiring Riverdance, Pickles moved up into the number one jumping spot. He was like an old pair of loafers. He was reliable,safe and true. He gave me consistant clear rounds on loose reins ,where I could jump the jumps with an open hand. He gave me exactly what I had been looking for for so long in my riding. Most importantly ,he gave me back my confidence and I knew he had the same confidence in me. My last round at Rocking horse was in a snaffle on a loose rein.

Pickles was kind. He was a worrier.He was very loyal. And he was loved by us all. Barby had a very special relationship with him.My vet ,Linda Hickey thankfully never left my side. I do not know what I would have done without her. I am indebted to her for the rest of my life. I promise you there are three people in Aiken today with tremendous headaches and broken hearts.

I just got his passport. I had just entered him in his first Intermediate.He is safe now. He is at peace. There is no more pain. And best for him,no more Dressage.No more of that damn small arena.Run Pickles. You can fly now with your head as high up as you want.God Bless you.

I love you Pickles. You shall go with us everywhere. I cannot wait to see you again.Thankyou my friend for your lessons.Thankyou for being so handsome and kind to me.Thankyou for everything you did for us all. You had so many friends. He always had children everywhere ask about him.

My final word is a simple one. Love

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kisses and Cookies

For our first competition of the season , Barby,The Devils and I packed up and headed out of Aiken VERY DECADENTLY on a WEDNESDAY for what was supposed to be a two day event Friday and Saturday.

We had a super trip down. The horses were very comfortable and had a chance to have a good rest in their new digs, Nancy and Alice gave us terrific stalls. We found a great place to hook up the trailer and got all settled in before TORRENTIAL rain started.It POURED for two days.The good news was we had lots of movies to watch in the palace (my trailer),the power worked without fail and our new blow up mattress worked a treat.We had a ton of laughs and some much needed rest. The days at the farm before our departure were CRAZY busy and I was on my last nerve.

Thursday was a very wet day. I rode each of the devils twice. VERY VERY WET! Lots of lightning and not great conditions but I was determined to stick to the plan.

Friday dressage was wet and windy.For the first time in the arena this year overall I was pleased with everything except my scores.Peter had a small hesitation right at A,putting in a halt step in his walk transition. This is a game he loves to play. Other than that I was a bit conservative with him yet pleased. Harry was having some sort of an issue with his left lead counter counter and was tenser than normal but made it through without problems.His normally fabulous walk was below standard for him but all in all we were delighted to finish 6th in a big class.Pickles spoke to me in the clearest voice ever about how he needed to be ridden. It was extraordinary. Not a huge fan of the small arena, he often gets nervous right before going in the ring and starts to barge through my half halts and starts to pull like a freight train. As I ride him in the fattest of eggbutts ,I am left totally at his mercy at the most crucial of times.So I decided to very intelligently jab him with my spurs to tell him to reconnect to my leg and he answered that little conversation with the steepest levade one could ever see. Oh great here we go........He clearly told not to go to my spur but go to my seat which he had clearly pulled me out of. It was a GREAT message from dear Pickles and God to simply ride better or else!We thought he did a great test for him though his canter was a little choppy.

It rained so hard ,our show jumping had to be post poned to Sunday,so Barby and I got to scive off and do a little shopping at the fab trade fair. I bought two really nice pairs of corduroy breeches and a great rain suit all on sale. WOW! LOVE THAT!Then it was time to walk the cross country and more movies!

The cross country course was GREAT. Lots of good angled questions. EXACTLY what I need to prepare for moving up to Intermediate. The jumps were big enough. There was lots of great galloping room and the footing was perfect despite the rain.It was a perfect first outing for us all.
Peter Pan and Pickles were almost faultless. Both made the time on loose reins and BUZZED the course. I told Pickles, I didn't care if he was last in dressage for the rest of his life if he continues to jump like that. He is just like an old pair of loafers!And Peter is like a guided missile.

Harry was very very good,but I made an really stupid but necessary mistake that I hopefully will not do again. I let my guard down at a three stride angled question and had a run out. I do not think I have ever had a glance off with Harry and I just softened ever so slightly and paid the price. EXACTLY what the course designer had hoped for!UGH!!!!!!So I quickly circled and he popped it like a pro and went on without a problem. I hated to let him down but it was a lesson I needed to be reminded of from above again. I was so lucky to have a third chance to fix it back with Pickles.God was telling me to slow down and balance more. I heard him ,I did it and was rewarded with a ride that redeemed my faith in myself and my boys. There were lots of kisses and cookies for the devils in the stables that night.I was delighted.

Sunday followed with three clear show jumping rounds.Though the Intermediate show jumping still looks big to me, I feel we will be ready by Chattahoochee to move up. Can't wait!

Peter was the star this weekend finishing third in his class. Pickles was 9th and Harry 14th I think due to my error. But I am not worried. I just have to ride better and pay attention.

We had a great trip home with everyone safe and sound. Next stop Pine Top for our hopefully last prelim before the big move up. I can't wait!Stay tuned!